We had a quick 1 hour flight from Inverness to Dublin and arrived at our hotel around 1 pm. However our first day in Dublin was quite uneventful. We checked into the hotel (the first hotel we’ve stayed at on our journey), had lunch and then promptly took a nap. As our friend Wilcy said, ‘that’s part of the sabbatical anyway – rest and recharging’ but it doesn’t make for a very good blog post!
Thankfully we made up for it on our second day in Dublin. We started the day off with a free walking tour that was about 2 1/2 hours long on the South side of Dublin. The River Liffey divides Dublin into the North and South and the North side has a reputation of being the seedy side although we were told that the crime rate on either side is incredibly low. On the tour we got to hear a ton about Irish history and we saw the Dublin Castle which is interesting because it is comprised of several different styles of architecture including medieval, gothic, Georgian, and even modern (our tour guide described this part of the building as looking like the Google headquarters).
Another interesting part of the tour was the stories behind Christ Church Cathedral. Apparently after Henry the VIII declared that all of Britain would change religions from the Catholic to the Church of England the Irish people were incredibly upset (rightfully so) to be told they had to change religions. So when Henry VIII converted this cathedral to the new religion the people revolted by making it more of a market than a cathedral and even opened a bar and distillery in the basement. Eventually it was decided this was disrespectful and the cathedral was converted back and is now the cathedral of the United Diocese of Dublin.
The guide took us through Temple Bar which is an area of Dublin that is parallel to the Liffey and is known for it’s night life – our hotel is located in this area. He also told us about the ‘Monument of Light’ which was originally commissioned to mark the millennium however it wasn’t finished until 2003 and it cost 4 million euro which is an incredible amount given that it’s just a giant needle with no functionality. Apparently the locals lovingly refer to the monument as the ‘stiffy by the Liffey’ and it would be rare to find a local that knows its actual name.
The tour ended at Trinity College where we got to see the buildings of ‘heaven’ (the school church) and ‘hell’ (the exam hall). And although Trinity College was built at the same time as Oxford and Cambridge it is much more affordable – Irish residents can attend for around 500 Euro a year! It is probably good that it’s quite cheap since students will need to save their money for beer – Dublin apparently is one of the most expensive cities in Europe to drink in.
In the afternoon we decided to take a trip to the Guinness store house. The building is on the location where the original Guinness fermentation room was however that closed in 1988 and it has since been a visitor center. There are seven floors which walk you through the process of brewing, the history of Guinness (including its 9,000 year lease) and the advertising strategies over the years. It even has a tasting room (where we got the smallest glasses of Guinness I’ve ever seen), a learn to pour the perfect Guinness course, and what they call the ‘Gravity Bar’ which has beautiful panoramic views of Dublin. We chose to enjoy our pint of Guinness with the beautiful views.
One of the things Dublin is most known for is its night life, especially in Temple Bar, so we decided to experience this by going on an organized pub crawl. We were a little hesitant at first, I thought we might be too old for one, but it ended up being a great time. The reasons I enjoyed it were: 1. we got to meet and talk with lots of new people (when you are staying mostly in Airbnbs interactions outside of each other are very limited) 2. we got to visit several different bars that we wouldn’t have found on our own and about half of them had really good live music 3. we got to see Irish dancers perform. We ended the night by asking the tour leader what Irish ‘drunk food’ is – he pointed us to a gyro shop where we got a gyro with a cabbage mixture and chips in it – definitely an interesting twist on a Mediterranean classic and it was a delicious way to end our experience.